Washington, Jan 19 (ANI): ESA's Large Space Simulator has now been tested, making it is the only facility capable of reproducing Mercury's hellish environment for a full-scale spacecraft.
The Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) has survived a simulated voyage to the innermost planet.
The octagonal spacecraft, which is Japan's contribution to BepiColombo, and its ESA sunshield withstood temperatures higher than 350 Degrees C.
The power of the Sun is measured in units called the solar constant. This is how much energy is received every second through a square metre of space at the distance of Earth's orbit.
"Previously, the LSS was capable of simulating a solar constant or two. Now it has been upgraded to produce ten solar constants," says Jan van Casteren, ESA BepiColombo project manager.
They achieved this in two ways: the lamps from the simulators are being used at their maximum power and the mirrors that focus the beam have been adjusted.
"The sunshield test was successful. Its function to protect the MMO spacecraft during the cruise phase was demonstrated," says Jan.ESA's Large Space Simulator is now the most powerful in the world and the only facility capable of reproducing Mercury's hellish environment for a full-scale spacecraft."
Once the craft is at Mercury, it will be protected from the Sun's fearsome heat by special thermal blankets, which consist of multiple layers including a white ceramic outer layer and several metallic layers.
"The tests allowed us to measure the thermal blanket's performance. The results allow us to prepare some adjustments for the tests of the Mercury Planetary Orbiter next year," says Jan. (ANI)